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Brazilian archbishop who sheltered priests accused of paedophilia resigns

Catholics in the northeastern Brazilian state of Paraiba woke up yesterday to find that Archbishop Aldo di Cillo Pagotto was stepping down after having his resignation accepted by Pope Francis.

The Vatican said the Pope accepted his resignation in accordance with Canon 401.2 of the Code of Canon Law, which covers “ill health or some other grave cause”.

In a letter about his resignation, the archbishop said he had always tried to give the best of himself and admitted he had made mistakes.

“I gave shelter to priests and seminarians, in order to offer them new chances in life. Among those were some who were later suspected of committing serious derelictions. I made the mistake of being too trusting,” stated the letter.

Some of the priests taken in by Archbishop Pagotto have been accused of pedophilia. In June, Pope Francis warned that bishops guilty of looking the other way or covering up child abuse by priests within their congregations could be removed from their duties.

In his letter, Archbishop Pagotto, who led the Archdiocese of Paraiba for the past 12 years, said he took tough and urgent measures regarding the reorganisation of the administration and recovery of the archdiocese’s assets, displeasing many people along the way. And for those actions, he said, there was retaliation.

He said that in addition to internal and external retaliation, there was an effort to destabilise the archdiocese by pressure groups, including those labelled “anonymous priests” who received wide media coverage.

With the pressure, the archbishop said, his power of coordination was lost, and the Church became divided. He said he thought it was best “for the Church as a whole and in particular for the Church of Paraiba” to offer his resignation.

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